As a student at a technical school, I’m the odd one out. I love the humanities, the arts, and, above all, writing. Yes, your read that right. Writing. The bane of every tech students’ existence, except mine. I will admit there was a time (a very long time at that) that I hated writing (read my story here), but that’s because no one believed in my writing potential as an ESL student. Thankfully, I’m in a different position today and I wouldn’t change it for the world.
Some find it intimidating to get thoughts down on paper. We become so concerned with writing well that we’re paralyzed by ever putting a word down on paper. I get that.But do you know what I don’t get? People who claim writing to be inferior to STEM disciplines, reducing its worth to mere nothingness. It pains me when people fail to notice the value of writing.
Writing is an art and, like many artistic fields, it develops with an acute sensitivity, not only to the world around you, but to the people around you. As such, it becomes a lens through which one’s own perceptions, identities, fears, struggles, realities, and pleasures come together into a unique perspective on life. To me, that is the true essence of writing. It is a reflection of the writer as well as the many influences that have shaped their lives. Reading the works of writers is akin to stepping into the shoes of those who, while, may have lived centuries past in worlds incomprehensible to us today, have left their lives’ permanent marks on paper. Doing so, they’ve opened up the door to a places that, otherwise, would have been forgotten.
This is particularly true of populations who have been historically oppressed in our society. From BIPOC communities and women to the LGBTQ+ community and immigrants, writing has kept their stories, their struggles alive to this day. Since so much of our society reflects what came before, the voices of such writers serve as beacons of light and hope to present-day generations, fighting for causes not unlike those of the past. As much as we would like to hide or disclaim the lived experiences of those oppressed, writing is one means of keeping these stories alive.
Shouldn’t this, alone, not be enough of a reason for people to appreciate writers and the stories they tell?
Of course, at this point, it begs asking what it is that we value as a society. Because, if anything, we are valuing people less and less these days. We’ve raised quantifiable outcomes of money and material possessions (spurred by our capitalist economy) above human relations, kindness, and empathy.
As such, it becomes quite clear as to why writing, such a seemingly ‘subjective’ and personal experience, has become buried under our society’s desperate drive towards homogeneity, reduction of the human experience to mere statistics, and singularity of human thought and experience.
At present, as much as I would like people to understand the potency of writing and treat it with as much respect as STEM fields, I come to face an opposing reality. It makes me question whether, as a society, we’ve become so quick to judge things at face value that we’re intimidated to go deeper and uncover the true beauty lying dormant beneath the surface.
Perhaps, writing is not the most visual of arts (though many imaginative storytellers will tell you otherwise!). It is an experience that is sensed, with each word having the power to speak volumes when carefully crafted. Like a painting that can create a certain mood or a song that can bring us to tears, writing can do the same. It can strip us off our preconceived notions and it can force us to look at things we’ve wanted to keep neatly tidied away.
It can bring us into worlds disparate from our own, into places that we would have, otherwise, never stepped foot in. It challenges us, our biases and what we deem true about our own realities, if only for the briefest of moments. It reminds us, not only of the great successes of our ancestors, but also inspires us to learn from the trying experiences of our predecessors.